Saturday, 27 October 2012
I remember coming into the office this past July, one of the first days after I had badly sprained my ankle. On of the partners noticed me hobbling around, and asked how long I would be off running for. I told him about a month - but this was ok, as I could focus on yoga and get a really strong core.
He looked at me: "Or, you could consider focussing on your career." Oh yeah, that.
Running this much gives me tunnel vision: I go workout to workout, meal to meal, sleep to sleep. It makes me fast (sometimes) and also selfish (sometimes). It makes me cancel plans for last-minute physio, or to catch up on sleep or even snag a washer and dryer in our building laundry room.
Running provides structure and definition to my life. It's what gets me up in the morning, and bookends my weekend: the washed out shakiness after 20k Tuesday tempo, Wednesday chatting along False Creek to a late sunrise, Thursday night dodging cars on VFAC intervals, Saturday and Sunday drinking coffee watching the black fade into grey as morning hits outside. This is my routine. It's where I see my friends, and where I feel most myself.
Until I don't.
the semi-busted ankle
I took a drop wrong on the trail run last Sunday, and have had a sore ankle since. I have had worse injuries, and more painful injuries. Usually, when something feels a bit off with my body, my first instinct (before I have a drink, take my running shoes off, or shower) is to frantically text Allison and Ramsey (my super-physios) to get it sorted out.
Not this time. I came home Sunday night, took an advil, and slept. Monday my foot was still sore and stiff - so I took it off. Tuesday I did the same. In an odd way, the injury was a relief - it gave me a break, and excuse to just stop. I finally caved on Tuesday night, and got looked at Wednesday. I remember going to physio with a sore hip or busted ankle: all my questions were about how soon I could get back to training (Ramsey took ages to talk me down from doing Hanes Valley on a foot that still couldn't bear weight). This time, I didn't ask my usual ten times how soon I could get back to running.
there's a razor's edge / I've lost somewhere
I like running fast. I like the part in long tempos - 17k, 18k in - where I feel it all start to fall apart. I tell myself: this is where the workout starts, this is where races come from. I look at my watch - count metres, count breaths, drop the pace. On hard intervals, I try to keep up with the shoes in front of me. I tell myself: just hold on - one more kilometer, ten more breaths, don't think.
For me, running fast is about playing to the edge: the break between wanting to stop, and not stopping. It's that toughness you find in yourself where you know, if you can just ignore the pain, ignore the discomfort, you will have the run of your life. And when it's over - when you can stop, breathe, collapse - the rush is in the relief, and the rush is in how alive and powerful the pain made you feel. In marathon training, my life was a textbook of what not to do during high-intensity training: working too many hours, not sleeping, running through injury. My life felt scary and new and not my own. I'd go to work after nailing a hard tempo - I felt like, by doing this one workout well, I could deal with anything that happened that day. And I couldn't wait to do it all over again.
After the Victoria half marathon, I haven't felt the same way in speedwork. The race was hard - I did well, I worked together with awesome teammates, and mentally I was pretty drained. I still love seeing my friends, and I love the energy we bring out in each other as we push each other. I don't feel that drive to push like I used to, though.
I still love the idea of running trails with friends - going to gorgeous places while catching up on each other's lives. I love the idea of getting up to see the snow, and to sorting out the puzzle of roots in front of me. I love views on the uphills and shaky legs on the downhills.
hurts so good
Pretty much all of us in my running pace group and marathon pace group have had some sort of injury this year.
Brooke, Shannon, Allison, Alicia, Katie and Kristen (calf, hamstring, hip, achilles, stress fracture x2) all have had overuse injuries that needed time off. I have had poor motor skill / idiot injuries (sprained ankle, jammed heel). Tara....has had a lot of hangovers.
Injury is part of our landscape. We are used to icing it, taping it up, stretching it out, popping an advil, rolling, heat-pad-ing, rehabbing. We are used to keeping going.
Sometimes it seems like my life is all running. It's what fills my early mornings, weekends, and plans. It's where my friends are. It's a bit scary to think of stopping - to figure out what, if anything, is left. Let's be honest: I don't like to shop, I haven't seen a movie in threatre since "Bridesmaids", I can't stay up past 10, and teaching myself to knit off of youtube went exactly how you would expect for someone with no motor skills. I know I'm not the only one who has trained on an injury too long, because the prospect of making it worse was less daunting than the prospect of what would happen if I stopped. All of the irrational fears: no friends, gaining ten pounds, getting slow, all that unusued energy.
This past week I took 5 days off running...some sort of record. I chased down a tough filing deadline. I had some good talks with old friends. I slept. I did not google my injury 20 times. I only moderately harassed my physio. I went up the BCMC trail, in the dark, with snow falling, before work. It was slippery, I was tired, and my navigational skills were at an all time low as I ignored the switchbacks and stumbled my way directly up the mountain. Breaking out to the fresh snow at the top in the still-grey light reminded me exactly why I love doing what I do.
So I'll sleep. I'll do my physio exercises. I'll roll out my foot. I'll take the space. And when I come back to training, everyone will still be there - a bit faster, and I'll be a bit slower - and I'll tuck into the back of the group, and feel the speed start to come.